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Ghost gun operation in Queens, Long Island dismantled following six-month investigation: AG

ghost gun
A huge cache of firearms were seized during multiple raids in Queens and Long Island Thursday, according to Attorney General Letitia James. (Courtesy of AG’s office)

Attorney General Letitia James and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force dismantled a ghost gun trafficking ring that operated in Queens and Suffolk counties.

A 438-count indictment was unsealed Dec. 1 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone charging two Suffolk residents and a South Carolina man from a gun trafficking operation that illegally sold 47 firearms, including ghost guns that were shipped to New York and Pennsylvania from various online retailers before being assembled.

ghost guns
A huge cache of firearms were seized during multiple raids in Queens and Long Island Thursday, according to Attorney General Letitia James. (Courtesy of AG’s office)

The indictment charges Fritz Pierre-Louis, 46, and Devon Smith-Martin, 26 — both from Suffolk County — as well as Hakeem Soloman, 26, of Sumter, South Carolina, with trafficking numerous ghost guns — weapons without serial numbers or other identifying markers — including assault weapons, machine guns and semiautomatic pistols. The gun trafficking operation also sold rapid-fire modification devices, silencers, high-capacity magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In total, the investigation led to the recovery of 57 firearms, 51 of which were ghost guns.

A huge cache of firearms were seized during multiple raids in Queens and Long Island Thursday, according to Attorney General Letitia James. (Courtesy of AG’s office)

“I will not allow our streets to be flooded with ghost guns, assault rifles, or other weapons of war,” James said. “Giving criminals easy access to illegal and untraceable guns is a threat to all New Yorkers and a danger that my office will not tolerate. High-capacity ammunition magazines and rapid-fire modification devices can easily turn firearms into mass-murder machines. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their support and coordination as we work to protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.”

The six-month-long investigation by the AG’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force revealed that Smith-Martin and Pierre-Louis ordered ghost gun components and accessories from out-of-state online firearm retailers and often had them shipped to an address in Pennsylvania. Smith-Martin then trafficked the firearm components and accessories to New York for assembly and sale.

A huge cache of firearms were seized during multiple raids in Queens and Long Island Thursday, according to Attorney General Letitia James. (Courtesy of AG’s office)

As a result of the interstate “Polymer” pipeline trafficking, the investigation was named “Operation Ghost Runner.” The investigation, which led to the recovery of 57 illegal firearms, included hundreds of hours of physical and covert surveillance, court-authorized wiretapping of numerous target phones, and undercover operations.

Agents executed search warrants Thursday morning at the home and Queens work site of Pierre-Louis and the residence of Smith-Martin, where they recovered three Polymer 80 9mm ghost guns, including one equipped with a rapid-fire modification device, numerous high-capacity magazines, including ones designed for AR-15 assault rifles, silencers, firearm component parts, including AR-15 and 9mm “lower receivers” and “upper receivers,” threaded barrels, drill kits, Polymer 80 and AR-15 “molds,” assembly tools, pistol jigs and additional ammunition.

A huge cache of firearms were seized during multiple raids in Queens and Long Island Thursday, according to Attorney General Letitia James. (Courtesy of AG’s office)

The three defendants were charged with various counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Criminal Sale of a Ghost Gun, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and Conspiracy for their participation in the illegal gun trafficking operation.

The investigation resulted in the recovery of nine 5.56-millimeter semi-automatic AR-15 style assault weapons, eighteen firearms outfitted with rapid-fire modification devices, making them fully-automatic machine guns, and forty-six high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, including one 100-round drum magazine.

“Today’s charges show that some criminals believe they can operate with impunity, in plain sight — the NYPD and our law enforcement partners exist to shatter that notion,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “I commend and thank everyone involved in this extremely important joint investigation. And I assure New Yorkers that our combined efforts will remain precisely focused on holding fully accountable anyone who peddles illegal guns on our streets.”

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